Thermal mass in building design

This paper was originally published in August 1995. It has now been fully reviewed by the authors and republished to reflect updates to the topic since original publication. This paper was originally published in August 1995. It has now been fully reviewed by the authors and republished to reflect updates to the topic since original publication.

Thermal mass can be effectively employed in buildings to increase occupants' thermal comfort conditions. This paper seeks to clarify the ways in which this can be achieved and specifically investigates how, why, where, when and in what way thermal mass will have the most beneficial impact.olution to building performance is being replaced by the engineered solution. The reasons for this are a) the architectural profession’s valuing of the aesthetic over the functional, and b) legislation that mandates occupant comfort as defined by a narrow set of numbers.

If architecture is to remain viable as a profession we, as architects, must abandon the notion of architecture as a fashion industry. We must also insist upon our right to design buildings that respond to the needs of their occupants, and re-establish the notions of occupant choice and relative comfort.

This note takes a critical look at the current notion of architecture as taste making, then proposes a way forward by re-establishing the notion of architecture as shelter building.

note summary
  1. Introduction
  2. Thermal mass and personal comfort
  3. Thermal mass and internal air temperature
  4. Design considerations
  5. Urban heat island effects
  6. Green roof revolution
  7. Limitations of software
  8. Embodied energy
  9. Conclusion